Sports Nutrition – Tips for fueling your workout
Hi There 🙂 Happy Wednesday! I hope you’re having a great day!
Looks like lots of you liked my PB Chocolate Chip Banana Bread! It’s pretty tasty.
I got an email yesterday asking why I post some recipes that aren’t healthy, and asking me about eating to fuel endurance workouts. If you’re familiar with my blog and have read my BIO, you know my food philosophy. I believe in practicing moderation. To me, there is no such thing as a good or bad food, but there is such a thing as a bad portion. I eat healthy, but never deprive myself of the foods I love. Probably 80% of my eating is healthy, and the rest is game for whatever I crave. As far as exercise goes, between taking care of a nine month old and getting my workouts in, I stay pretty active. I’ve ran a couple of marathons and still run… but my marathon days are over. My husband competes in Iron Man’s, so between my marathon experience and his training, I’m pretty familiar with how to fuel for endurance training.
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether your goal is health maintenance or training for an endurance event, fueling properly is key. It’s also important to recognize the difference between the two. Eating to fuel a daily power walk is different than eating to fuel a long distance runner or a triathlete. Factors to consider include the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, the right amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as the proper amount of fluids. Here are some tips for my endurance training readers.
- Best fuel for working muscles
- It’s important to include carbs at all meals.
- Our muscles are fueled by carbohydrates for energy, it’s important to make our carb choices count by focusing on whole grains and produce.
- A serving of fruit or veggies is about the size of a baseball.
- A serving of whole grains is about the size of our fist (1 cup). A 1-cup serving of grains averages about 175-200 calories.
- We need protein for muscle growth and for recovery (to repair muscle damage after exercise).
- Protein is needed to make red blood cells, which moves oxygen to muscles, and white blood cells, which help fight infection.
- Our body uses protein to make hormones and enzymes, which helps regulate our metabolism.
- Our maximum protein needs are only about 1 gram per pound body weight. This can easily be met with “real” food.
- Three ounces of lean meat provides about 21 grams of protein. Three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
- A good rule is to eat a portion of lean protein the size of the palm of your hand (at least 3 ounces) for lunch and dinner (breakfast if possible).
- We need fat for energy
- Fat helps our body utilize some vitamins.
- Fat helps move substances in and out of cells, and it helps keep your brain and nervous system healthy.
- Fat provides a “satisfaction” factor at each meal.
- Try to include a serving of healthy fats with your meal. A serving is a tablespoon (about the size of your thumb).
- Healthy fats include: almonds, mixed nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, ground flax meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, avocados, canola oil, and olive oil.
Vitamins & Minerals:
- Help unlock the energy stored in food so your body can use it as fuel.
- Our body needs calcium, magnesium, fluoride, and vitamin D to keep bones strong.
- Include a serving of veggies (1 cup) at lunch and dinner… preferably dark leafy greens.
- Include a serving of fruit (1/2 cup) at breakfast and lunch.
- Make sure your veggies are not fried or swimming in butter.
- Take a daily multivitamin. This is a great insurance plan to ensure our bodies are getting the nutrients it needs.
- Water is the most important nutrient. If your body weight drops just 1% from losing fluids, your performance will suffer.
- Be sure to replace the fluids you lose through sweat when you are active.
- For high intensity or endurance workouts (90 minutes or longer) it is extremely important to replace your fluids.
- Weigh yourself prior to your workout.
- Hydrate during your workout as usual.
- Weigh yourself after your workout – make note of the number of pounds lost post workout. Consume 3 cups (24 ounces) of water or sports drink for every pound of body weight that your lost while you were active.
Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Power-Ade are really only needed when you will be working out for 90 minutes or more. For daily exercise up to 1-hour, water is the best choice for hydration.
Always eat breakfast
Make it a point to eat a good breakfast every morning. This is extremely important for endurance athletes. The level of glycogen in our liver is lower in the morning. We need to refuel our body to replace the energy it used while we slept.
Before an Endurance Workout
3-4 hours before a workout, practice, or competition, eat a carb loaded meal such as rice, pasta, yogurt, fruit smoothie, fruit, breads, rolls, etc…
It’s extremely important to NEVER let yourself go hungry. If you’re training for a marathon or an Iron Man, your calorie intake will be very high. I know when my husband is in peak training mode, he’s taking in between 4000 & 5000 calories per day. Plan your meals and time them around your workouts for proper digestion.
For Morning Exercisers
If your workouts will be no longer than one hour, it’s not vital to eat something prior to our workout… unless you are STARVING from the night before. If you will be going for a long run, cycling, or any other activity that will be 90 minutes or more, fueling prior to exercise is key. Have an energy bar, granola bar, ½ bagel, large banana, etc… Consume at least 12ounces or more prior to your workout, and make sure you hydrated properly the day before.
Question of the day: How do you fuel your workouts? What pre-workout meal works best for you?
If I workout out super early, like 5 or 6am, I don’t really eat anything because I’m not hungry. I do eat a good breakfast within an hour of finishing my workout. I don’t do endurance training anymore, but if I decide to go for a longer run (8-10 miles for me) I’ll make sure to eat some type of easily digested food like a balance bar a couple of hours before my run.
Resources: American Dietetic Association, Jon Vredenburg MBA,RD, CSSD